“We stand on the firm foundation of the Word of God, not on the pretensions of men. I, as a teacher in the church, have no special access to hidden truth or special revelation. My authority derives solely from my faithfulness to the Bible. You are only under an obligation to believe me - or anyone else, to the extent that we can convince you that what we’re saying is actually the teaching of Scripture.”
Pastor Bob surveyed his congregation. There were one or two, he knew, who were getting a little too impressed with him. He hoped he’d got through to them this morning. Looking out at the sea of faces it was hard to tell. For those who might be slipping into hero-worship he knew he had to say a little more, although there were others who needed no reminding of the humbleness of his office.
“Paul talks about church being like a body, each of us needing the other. Well, a teacher in the church is not a particularly glamorous part of the body, for a teacher is like a stomach. As a stomach takes in food and extracts goodness to nourish the rest of the body, so a teacher reads and studies much, digests the almost indigestible, and passes on the insights gained so that the rest of the church may feed on them. Important and essential, yes. Glamorous, definitely not!”
His eyes flicked to a couple of people he hoped would hear his closing words.
“If you would be teachers in God’s church, there are long hours of solitary study ahead, so you can learn to handle the Word of God well, and have something with which to feed God’s people. And God will hold you more responsible than others. But ... there is also the joy of being about God’s work. If you think that God may be leading you into such a ministry ... in whatever capacity, seek out prayer with one of the elders or deacons afterwards. Press in and find the ministry God has for you.”
He then announced the closing hymn, remembered to turn off his tie mike before distressing everyone with his singing, and sat down. As usual after speaking he was all too aware of his own inadequacies. He prayed that the people would forget all that was not from God, and feel the full force of all that was. He then rose, gave the doxology, and reminded everyone that coffee was being served in the side hall.
As usual, he rapidly made his way to the back of the church to be available for people as they left.
As usual, he didn’t get back in time to catch two or three of the more sprightly pensioners before they’d made good their escape. He was in time to be thanked on ten separate occasions for his ‘lovely’ message. He smiled and inquired after their health, but he just couldn’t tell if they'd listened to a word he’d said.
Then came old Joe, who pumped his hand, told him he needed to speak up, and then said solemnly that he was the most glamorous preacher the church had had in forty years. Bob smiled uncertainly. He never quite knew how to take Joe.
After that he was cornered by three deacons who wanted to know what arrangements had been made for the annual Pensioners’ Dance. It took a promise to hold an extra deacon’s meeting to extract himself from the conversation. Unfortunately, despite his hasty capitulation, he still missed some visitors he'd noticed.
About an hour later, as the last stragglers were being evicted, Jackie, an occasional Worship Leader and Sunday School teacher, came up to him.
“Pastor, thank you for what you said this morning. I found it inspiring. It’s made me really want to apply myself to studying the Bible. Can you point me in the right direction?”
Bob felt his heart rise. This was why he ministered. “Well, actually, we’re planning a short introductory course on biblical theology for those involved in any kind of teaching in the church. It’ll review how the Bible is put together. We’ll look at how the different books should be handled to do full justice to their genre and place in Scripture. You’d be more than welcome ...”
My understanding that teachers are stomachs in the church is due to D.A. Carson, (PhD, University of Cambridge), Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, and author of over fifty books. An important theologian and stomach in Christ’s international body.
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